Today we review the Tascam US122MKII USB Audio Midi Interface, which is a small (2.4 pound, 7.5 x 5 x 2.5 inches) USB device that can be used to record live with microphones or via MIDI line in / out.
In this review, we’re going to go about it a bit different by talking to a musician by the name of Dave (AKA Young Coconut) who owns and uses the Tascam US122MKII on a regular basis. This interview with a regular user of the device will hopefully give you a well-rounded perspective of what the device can do. So, without delay, here’s our interview with Dave.
YTMS: So do you go by Dave or Young Coconut?
YC: Call me YC.
YTMS: Fair enough. Ok, YC, tell us about your experience with the Tascam US122MKII.
YC: I’ve had mine for about a year now. I keep it on my desk with my Macbook Pro, which is what I use for making music these days.
YTMS: Ah, what DAW do you use at the moment?
YC: I’m using Logic mainly.
YTMS: What kind of music are you working on lately?
YC: Pretty much guitar / bass / drums / vocals type of thing. Writing rock songs, and demoing them here at my place.
YTMS: By “demoing”, what do you mean exactly?
YC: I just record a sort of rough and ready version of the song using my instruments that are here, plus the mics that I have on hand.
YTMS: What instruments do you have that you’re recording?
YC: I have my old acoustic guitar which is a Vantage, my electric guitar which is just some ratty old thing, my drum set which is a Ludwig kit with a bunch of different cymbals including a Headliner ride and some Sabians (Dark Crash and hi hats), and whatever bass I can borrow since I don’t have one at the moment. I also have some vocal mics I use to record including an MXLV67 and a Groove Factory which is like an old school radio host looking microphone.
YTMS: And you record these all though the Tascam US122MKII?
YC: Yeah, at the moment. My last interface was an old Presonus Firepod that I had for like 12 years before it bit the dust.
YTMS: You have no problem recording all those instruments with the Tascam?
YC: I usually track my song one instrument at a time, so it’s not a problem. I’m doing it all myself, so I’ve gotten pretty good at recording me doing one track, then the next, and so on. It might take a while, but I just sit there and do it until I get the takes I want.
YTMS: So, you play all the instruments yourself one at a time basically? This isn’t recording “live”?
YC: No, this isn’t “live”, but I’m still trying to get a good performance from each instrument. With drums I might use two mics but lately I’ve taken to recording with just one based on some cool results I got with my buddy Eric St-Pierre of The Timeless Void. If I use the right mic in the right way with my drums, I get a cool sound. Actually, one mic on drums can pack a wallop I’ve found. It can give it a real old school sound that I like, like ’60’s garage rock style. Big and beefy, sort of a room sound like you hear in some Led Zep recordings.
YTMS: Speaking of sounding like garage rock or old school rock, do you find that you get good clarity out of the Tascam when recording, or is there a reason you’re just doing demos with your rig at this point. Why not full fledged recordings?
YC: That’s a good question. At this point, I’m really just at the demoing stage with this particular album I’m doing right now. Sometimes I like to go to a different studio to get a different sound using other peoples’ ears once I do the track myself at home. Just to change it up. That said, I have used my Tascam US122MKII to record what I’d call “studio” tracks, and it’s all good in that regard as well.
YTMS: So you’re saying the Tascam US122MKII is good enough to get a high quality sound for a recording with nothing lacking?
YC: The way I look at it, it’s not so much the interface that determines the sound quality, it’s the instruments you’re recording with and how you’re recording them. As far as I am concerned, my Tascam hooks up to Logic with no problem, there’s zero latency, no feedback, and, if I’m using the right mics and the right instruments, I’m going to get a good sound. In other words, it’s more likely my fault for getting an inferior sound than it is the fault of the interface.
YTMS: How do you mean?
YC: I just mean that say I record a track in Logic, through the Tascam, using my kind of beat up old guitar, which can go out of tune easily, and I also am not mic’ing things correctly, or I’m using a cheap mic. The sound is going to end up sounding bad because of me. The sound will still be clear, but it might not sound good. That’s not the Tascam’s fault, right?
YTMS: I see what you mean. So you’re saying you generally do get a good performance out of the Tascam. Do you fully utilize the device?
YC: Not exactly. I don’t use the MIDI part, for instance, because I have another MIDI device that I plug right into my computer and I just don’t need to use the MIDI channels on the Tascam right now. The rest of it, I do use. I have mics that require phantom power so I switch that on sometimes. I’ve used the line ins, the headphone jack which needs an adaptor usually which I have, and pretty much everything else on the device gets used, including the line out on the back.
YTMS: Have you ever run into any issues with the Tascam US122MKII?
YC: In the beginning, I was having trouble getting the thing to work. But that was because I was using a faulty USB cable that I pulled out of a box somewhere. Once I got a new USB cable to plug it in, that was the end of my problem.
YTMS: Can you think of anything else you want to mention to people about using this interface?
YC: Not really. Stylistically, I like recording rock songs or just guitar and vocals with the Tascam, but that’s just me. You can use this device to record pretty much anything you want. It’s priced very affordably and I’d say if you’re getting serious about recording, you’re going to need a pre-amp, and so why not this one? Compared to my old Presonus unit, there’s not nearly as many inputs, that’s true. I used that Presonus unit for over 10 years with Cubase and recorded tons of tracks with it, and back then I used to get a kick out of putting 8 mics on my drumkit to get a pretty hi fi surround sounding sound. With this Tascam, I can no longer do that, but, to be honest, most instruments only need one or two mics on them to sound good, so I can’t really complain. Is this the most high tech piece of gear out there? No, but I’m not really interested in using anything too fancy at the moment. I can get my ideas down with this device, and to me that makes it worth it.
YTMS: Thanks for your time, YC. Share a tune with us sometime so we can hear what you’re doing.
YC: No problem and will do.